They say that short term memory is the first to go. I can remember what I had for lunch on the first day of first grade (indelibly burned into my memory as a life lesson) but now, when asked what I did the previous weekend, well, that can be a complete mystery.
Even my “better half” has his moments. Carl woke me up one morning saying, “Honey, I have some bad news. I don’t know how this happened, but someone stole your car from the garage. I’ve called the police to file a stolen car report.”
I reacted, “WHAT?!!?? Are you KIDDING me?”
Racing to the laundry room, I flung open the door into our garage. Sure enough, my car was GONE!
Realizing the truth, I began to laugh.
“Oh my goodness, dear, don’t you remember? I took my car to the dealer YESTERDAY and you picked me up afterward and brought me home!
My own most recent memory blip involved zipping a pair of AirPods into an inside pocket of a brand new purse before embarking on an Epic Journey.** The purse traveled with me, never used, for 3 weeks. Once back home, I returned it to the store—with AirPods still tucked inside. I had no earthly idea where I lost my AirPods and gave up looking—until weeks later, when the AirPods pinged on the Find My app and a crazy adventure of retrieving them began!
Forgetfulness is a normal part of the human condition. Who hasn’t walked into a room and had no idea upon arrival why they were there? Fear not, nicknamed “the doorway effect” this frustrating phenomenon has been studied; there is a scientific explanation:
The Location Updating Effect
We all experience forgetfulness, either the kind that leaves us asking “Why am I in this room?” or far worse—the kind that weakens our trust in God because we forget all He has ALREADY done for us.
That’s why, throughout the Bible, God tells his people to create “monuments” to remind themselves and future generations of His faithfulness so that they will trust Him in the future.
From Jacob memorializing the place where he had an encounter with God, to Joshua erecting a monument at Gilgal from the 12 large stones taken from the middle of the Jordan, to Jesus assigning new meaning to the Passover bread and wine, we all benefit from visual reminders of God’s goodness and kindness toward us—especially when times are difficult.
I embroidered this pair of overalls before I went off to college to remind myself that God could be trusted based on everything He had already done in my life. Granted, I had not encountered any real serious challenges. But those ups and downs, trials, tests, tribulations, hills and valleys would come.
I may not still fit in those overalls, but the words still fit.
One of my good pals keeps a Grateful Journal. Each evening, she takes a mental jog through the day behind her and records how God has shown up—even in unexpected or unwanted twists and turns.
On my bed I remember you;think of you through the watches of the night.Because you are my help,I sing in the shadow of your wings.I cling to you;your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:6-8
Whether it’s a nightly discipline of a Grateful Journal or a daily habit of “entering His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” some days we may have to ask God for a “sanctified imagination” to see what we can possibly be grateful for.
When Psalm 63 says, “I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me” we are reminded of who is at God’s “right hand.” The risen Christ is our help; we can sing knowing He is holding onto us.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:31-34
It may be like searching for hidden objects that are cleverly disguised in a mishmash of chaos and suddenly spotting them! What relief and joy when we realize those good things were there all along. We just need eyes to see them.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17
As we round the corner into 2023, let’s look for the goodness of God this past year.
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see.
Finally, let’s remember the cross—the ultimate evidence that we can trust Him—come what may.
Watch: Alive Inside, a joyous documentary of the miracle that music holds to unlock the memory of those suffering from Alzheimers. “Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country whose minds have been revitalized and awakened by the simple act of listening to the music of their youth.” (You can watch it here OR without interruptions on Amazon.)
Watch: Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Share Touching Moment Amid His Battle With Alzheimer’s | THR News(watch the entire Radio City Music Hall concert on Paramount+ — it is miraculous!)
Listen: Remember To Remember by Stephen Curtis Chapman
Rooted in Truth Scriptures: When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”…Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. Genesis 28:16-18 …be careful not to forget the LORD, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Deuteronomy 6:12 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over… Joshua 4:20-24 Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. Psalm 103:2 “Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.” Psalms 111:1-4 The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24-26
Growing In Love Practical Application: Fall in love with Jesus by watching Season 1 & 2 of The Chosen. (Hang in there through the first 2 episodes which introduce major characters, skip the 3rd episode, and I bet you a cupcake that by the end of episode 4 you will be hooked!) Love God as you remember him “through the watches of the night” by downloading the Lectio 365 app which features a different prayer each night—complete with God’s word to guide you. This “Night Prayer” was written by Pete Greig. Keep a gratitude journal and spend a few minutes at the end of the day listing how God “showed up” for you. Review the last year by looking through your calendar or pictures to remind yourself of “every good and perfect gift.” Love others by reminding them of all the good things that God has done in and through them. If you know someone with a major memory deficit, take time to make a playlist of their favorite music and find a way to get it into their life—whether it’s through this “radio”—or with a pre-loaded device and a pair of headphones. Create “stones of remembrance” by writing a word or phrase on a smooth stone to commemorate every good thing that God has done for you. Place them in a special bowl visible by all.